Roisin Kelly: “Be true to yourself and don’t second-guess your decisions or abilities” | IWD 2020

International Women’s Day is a celebration of female accomplishment and a call to action for gender equality worldwide. This years’ theme #EachforEqual is about recognising women’s value in society and actively choosing to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. With this is mind, we spoke to some of AIT’s trailblazing women - past and present - who are paving the way forward. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

In conversation with Roisin Kelly, Learning Support Tutor, Athlone Institute of Technology:

Can you tell us about your own role in AIT and a little about your background?

I am currently a Learning Support Tutor for students with disabilities in the Student Resource Centre. My role is to support students in their transition to third level and guide them in developing academic skills required to access and progress through their studies. I promote the use of Assistive Technologies to accommodate students diverse learning needs, enhance engagement and create a more autonomous learning environment.

In 2005, I completed a BA in Applied Languages (French & German). Although I always enjoyed languages, I was unsure if I wanted to pursue a career in the area. Deep down, I always saw myself in a helping role. I decided to take a study break and started working as a notetaker for students with disabilities here in AIT. The role opened my eyes to adverse effects of Specific Learning Difficulties on some students’ academic achievement and emotional wellbeing. I quickly became interested in the area. Patricia Kearney the Disability Officer at the time encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to complete a Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing with British Psychological Society. Following that, I went on to complete a postgrad in Specific Learning Difficulties and a MA in Professional studies in Special Educational Needs in 2016.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

An opportunity to honour the tenacious women who have and are currently leading the fight against gender inequality.

Who are your female role models?

Firstly, my mum!! She instilled and inspired my ambition no matter what obstacles came my way. She is the backbone of the family and leads by example. She taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be, that hard work pays off, to push myself out of my comfort zone and above all to believe and trust in myself.

I think Joanne O’Riordan is a fantastic role model to all women. She does not let her disability define her or hold her back. I admire her determination and courage.

How can women better support each other?

Be kind to each other and commend each other’s accomplishments. Strong relationships are very powerful and can make an impact!

What advice would you give women either in or struggling to break into traditionally male industries or sectors?

Be mindful of your past successes and all that you bring to the table. Speak up to have our voice and be assertive not aggressive.

How can young women find mentors?

They may be a family member, friend, teacher, lecturer or anyone in the community wants to see them succeed, challenges them, encourages them do develop a healthy sense of self.

What do you think helped you in your career to date?

I am very lucky to work as part of a very strong female led team. We each have our own unique skill sets but work collaboratively to reach a common goal; supporting students reach their academic potential and complete their studies successfully.

How can we encourage young girls to dream bigger?

Listen to them and show them that their thoughts and ideas hold value. Reward them for achievements and encourage them to push themselves. It is important to teach them that there is no shame in failure, it is a part of life. Encourage them to try again and think of it as an opportunity grow.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your 18-year-old self?

Be true to yourself and do not second-guess your decisions or abilities.

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